Best Dog Breeds for Farms

These dogs will be suited to living on a rural homesteading

Border Collie lying on top of a bale of straw

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Living a self-sustaining lifestyle is growing in popularity. Many people are choosing to get away from the hustle of city life and escaping to a rural location. Sometimes this involves introducing some livestock to the land.

There are a lot of dog breeds that will adjust well to living in a rural countryside setting. Some, however, have been bred specifically to thrive leading a farming lifestyle. They tend to be hardy and driven dogs that enjoy the great outdoors. They may be excellent herders, watchdogs, vermin catchers, or multi-purpose all-rounders.

Below are ten dogs breeds that are considered a good match for farm life.

  • 01 of 10

    Airedale Terrier

    Airedale Terrier head shot in front of grass

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    The Airedale is the largest of all the terrier types, and they were traditionally bred to work as versatile, all-around farm dogs.

    They have the natural terrier prey drive and make excellent vermin catchers, but they're also keen protectors of their patch and, with the right training, can help drive livestock.

    Airedales are more independent and strong-willed than some of the dogs on this list. Patience and positive rewards will be important when it comes to training. Known for being prolific diggers, you may also have to keep them away from a prized vegetable patch!

    Breed Overview

    Height: 22 to 24 inches

    Weight: 40 to 65 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Hard, wiry, dense, straight, short topcoat, with a softer undercoat; head and ears are tan, and the body is a mix of tan and black or dark grizzle; distinctive beard, and they are the largest of the terrier breeds

  • 02 of 10

    Australian Cattle Dog

    Australian Cattle Dog standing on bark shavings

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    If you have livestock that need driven over long distances, you're not going to find a more hardy or determined candidate for the job than the Australian Cattle Dog.

    Also known as Heelers, they got this name because they guide the cattle by nipping at their feet. They're intensely loyal, intelligent and eager to please.

    Aussie Heelers won't be for every farmstead, however. These dogs need a heck of a lot of exercise and can become easily bored if they're kept within the confines of the property most of the day.

    They're also known for being territorial. This can be helpful if you're looking for a watchdog, but proper socialization will be needed to prevent their guarding instincts becoming an issue.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 18 to 20 inches (male); 17 to 19 inches (female)

    Weight: 35 to 50 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: An athletic, muscular and broad dog; smooth, hard double-coat; coat color is usually blue, blue mottled or blue speckled; do also come in a less common red speckled variety too

  • 03 of 10

    Australian Shepherd

    Australian Shepherd with front paws up on wooden post

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    Despite the name, Australian Shepherds were developed in the U.S, as intelligent, energetic and loyal herders. They have long been associated with herding cattle out on the high plains of the American West.

    Providing the breed gets plenty of exercise and enrichment, they tend to be affectionate and eager to please. They can be shy around strangers, so early and ongoing socialization will be important.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 18 to 23 inches

    Weight: 40 to 65 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized, muscular and agile with a medium-length straight to wavy coat that comes in blue merle, black, red merle and red, all with or without white markings

  • 04 of 10

    Border Collie

    Border Collie lying on grass

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    When you think of the ultimate herding breed, the Border Collie will no doubt spring to mind. Developed on the Scottish/English Border for their natural ability and drive to herd sheep, they continue to be widely used as working farm dogs across the world.

    Many experts argue that the Border Collie is the smartest of all dog breeds, and they're known for their obedience, unfailing loyalty and desire to please.

    A Border Collie's work ethic is incredibly strong, and ensuring they have a job to do will help them to thrive. This is why they also make excellent sports dogs, often competing at the highest level in things like agility and flyball.

    Problem behaviors can quickly surface if a Border Collie isn't kept suitably physically and mentally enriched.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 18 to 22 inches

    Weight: 28 to 48 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized; rough or smooth medium-length double coat; body is slightly longer than it is tall; long head that comes to a point at the nose with ears standing erect and tips curling over

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Pembroke Welsh Corgi

    Pembroke Welsh Corgi herding sheep

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    The low-slung Pembroke Welsh Corgi is one of the smallest of the herding breeds. Developed in rural Wales to herd cattle and guard the farm, they became more well-known as a result of their popularity with Queen Elizabeth II.

    Corgis are smart, hard-working and affectionate dogs. They aren't as intense or energetic as some of the breeds on this list, and this makes them a popular family pet - not just on a farmyard setting.

    They still need plenty of exercise and socialization, though. They can be prolific alert barkers, may nip at running kids heels, and can be wary of strangers.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 12 inches

    Weight: 24 to 30 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: A long, low-set dog with short, muscular legs, a stubby tail and erect pointy ears; medium length double coat in black and tan, red, sable, or fawn (all colors are typically seen with white markings)

  • 06 of 10


    Wirehaired Dachshund lying in straw

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    This German dog breed was originally developed for their badger hunting skills. The mini version was more commonly utilized to catch rabbits, mice and other smaller prey.

    This makes them a good choice as a vermin catcher on a farm steading. They can also make good watchdogs, although you do have to watch their alert barking doesn't become excessive.

    Dachshunds, unsurprisingly, given their background, love to dig. If this isn't kept in check, they could dig under fences, into chicken coops, or through your well-tended vegetable patch. If you don't want this to create problems on your steading, you may have to work on redirecting this behavior to a designated and appropriate spot.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 5 to 9 inches

    Weight: Up to 32 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Low, long body; smooth, wire-haired, or long-haired coat; colors include chocolate, tan, black, red, and more

  • 07 of 10

    Dutch Shepherd

    Dutch Shepherd walking over grass

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    The Dutch Shepherd, often called the Dutch Herder, is sometimes confused with their German Shepherd Relatives. The less well known and brindle only breed, is, surprisingly, generally regarded as easier to train.

    Although they were developed for their herding skills, these dogs were prized for being versatile all-rounders. They would be used to guard farms and pull carts.

    Known for being loyal, affectionate and eager to please, Dutchies can make excellent companion dogs too. They just need to be given enough physical and mental enrichment.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 22.5 to 24.5 inches (males); 21.5 to 23.5 inches (females)

    Weight: 45 to 75 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Short, long and rough-coated varieties and brindle coloring

  • 08 of 10

    Great Pyrenees

    Great Pyrenees in field with sheep

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    If you're looking for a family-friendly dog that makes an excellent livestock or farmyard guardian, even in cold climates, look no further than the Great Pyrenees.

    Pyrs are still used to this day to guard livestock in the mountainous region between France and Spain where they hail from.

    These dogs are known for being calm, affectionate and devoted to their family, including children. Although known for being gentle with those they know, they're also excellent watchdogs. Their loud bark can become an issue, however, if not kept in check.

    Prys may be docile with those they know, but they're also known for being independent and strong-willed, which can mean more patience will be required when it comes to training.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 26 to 32 inches (male); 25 to 29 inches (female)

    Weight: Around 100 pounds (male); Around 85 pounds (female)

    Physical Characteristics: Thick, weather-resistant double coat that is usually all white, although sometimes contains light markings in gray, red, tan or badger; males especially have a pronounced ruff around their neck

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    German Shepherd

    German Shepherd standing in field of grain

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    The German Shepherd is well-known for being a versatile and intelligent working dog. There's good reason why they're commonly used by the police, the military, search and rescue teams, security services, and as service and assistance dogs.

    Smart, hard-working, highly trainable, loyal and protective, GSDs can also make good multi-purpose farm dogs. They have strong natural guarding and herding skills.

    Lots of positive reinforcement training is needed to get the best from your GSD. Their guarding traits can become excessive isn't kept in check, and they'll need appropriate socialization if you want to ensure they'll get along with other dogs.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 22 to 26 inches

    Weight: 60 to 100 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Large, athletic build with a double coat, comprised of a thick undercoat and a dense, slightly wavy or straight outer coat with tan and black or red and black coloring

  • 10 of 10

    Jack Russell Terrier

    Jack Russell Terrier on a hay bale

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    If you have a barn, stable or other farmyard building that you want to keep free of pests, then the Jack Russell Terrier could be the perfect family addition.

    Highly proficient, brave and determined vermin catchers, Jacks have bags of personality and love to play. They're known for being robust, healthy, and having a longer than average lifespan.

    Just because they're small, it doesn't mean you'll be getting a dog without their challenges. JRTs are feisty, strong-willed and noisy.

    Their prey drive means you'll have to make sure they don't try to catch any chickens you have too. Like the Dachshund, this breed also loves to dig.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 10 to 15 inches

    Weight:13 to 17 pounds

    Physical Characteristics: Square, compact build; head is small and blocky with almond-shaped dark eyes and dropped ears set high; slim, erect tail

It's important to do your research before introducing any dog to your household.

Although the breeds above vary greatly in size and temperaments, they're all known for being smart and driven. Many of these dogs will benefit from being given tasks to do.

They'll also need plenty of exercise, and their instinctual drives will need to be channelled appropriately to prevent problem behaviors developing.